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New law tightens penalties for stalking

032614 js 0700csRA new public safety law was signed by Governor Pat Quinn on Friday that tightens penalties for convictions of stalking by making the offender ineligible for alternative sentencing.

Alternative sentencing, known as Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC), generally is available to all drug-involved offenders charged with (or convicted of) probationable crimes. Offenders with no prior felony convictions who complete a TASC treatment plan can file motions to have their convictions vacated and the criminal proceedings dismissed.

However, stalking, as sponsor Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) points out, threatens the safety of another person and should not be eligible for alternative sentencing programs.

"Stalking is not a victim-less crime appropriate for alternative sentencing," McGuire said. "Stalking puts a victim at risk. This new law helps reduce that risk."

Chicago has fastest-growing private companies: Inc. 5000

chicago-incSharing from Crain's Chicago Business: Chicago is a top city on Inc.'s annual ranking of America's fastest-growing private companies, the magazine said today.

The Inc. 5000 ranking for 2014 analyzes companies' three-year revenue growth and lists the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies and small businesses in the U.S.

Chicago has 95 companies on the list — the most of any city except New York. San Francisco came in at No. 7, with 63 companies. Read the full Crain's story here.

New law will help keep children who need mental health treatment with their families

052114CM0012RA new law should help end a disturbing trend: parents turning their children over to the Department of Children and Family Services because it is the only way the kids can get the mental health care they need.

Parents who make this heart-wrenching choice have usually already exhausted every other option. Their private insurance refuses to pay any more, but they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

The new law will give exhausted parents the ability to get state assistance without giving up their children to the foster care system.

Citizens learn to save money at Stadelman's utility bill clinic

utilsROCKFORD – Mary Klemm walked out of Monday's utility bill clinic with potentially an extra $20 a month in her pocket.

An adviser from the Citizens Utility Board walked Klemm through her options for keeping her land line and finding a better deal. Turns out her current provider charges her a monthly fee to generate a long-distance bill even if she didn't make any calls.

"She gave me information that as a consumer, I didn't know -- and that's going to save me money. I'm old school. I don't want to pay for what I don't use," said Klemm, who is now going to work further with CUB to lower her cell phone costs.

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